WIRRAL'S Labour group is back in charge of the borough after a year of opposition.

Councillor Steve Foulkes was voted as the council's new leader as Lib-Dems opted to back neither Labour nor Conservative at the meeting of annual council on Monday.

With just nine seats, Lib Dems are the smallest party but hold the balance of power on the council.

They abstained on a vote to remove Cllr Jeff Green as council leader and also to replace him with Cllr Foulkes.

Accepting his new role, Cllr Foulkes said he would work to ensure "a fairer deal" and that Conservatives "needed to stand up for Wirral."

He said: "Why should we lose £91 per head when Dorset are losing just £2. We have got a raw deal from central Government.

"I'm not asking for the local government pot to be replenished but I am asking for it to be distributed in a Labour progressive way."

Councillor Foulkes also pledged to create openess within the council and involve members of the public in decision-making – following on from the Tories' consultation programme.

He added: "We will go out and ask people but the last consultation had a white elephant in the room – the public should have been asked 'do you think we are getting a fair deal?'"

Lib Dem leader Cllr Tom Harney said his group's choice to dissolve their year-long partnership with the Tories "was not a reflection on the hard work of the last 12 months."

Councillor Harney said: "Given the election results and our reduced numbers, we recognised that we were not given a mandate to continue running the council as part of a coalition.

"But we are not giving our backing to the other two parties either.

"We have not made any agreements with Labour. We will not be agreeing any kind of strategy with them and we will not be doing any 'deals'. There will be no easy ride for them.

"As an opposition party we will act in a responsible and constructive manner and will be casting our votes on an issue by issue basis.

"Labour will have to work hard to do things the right way if they want our support on any issues and we will hold them to account when they get it wrong."

Councillor Green said he was disappointed that the Lib-Dems had had a "collective loss of self-confidence in the progressive partnership."